Review: Bavinck, Essays on Society and Religion

It pains me to rate this only three stars, given Bavinck’s towering reputation. But alas, it must be so. Remember the parts of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics where he did historical surveys on dead 19th century Germans? Those were also the only parts of RD that you didn’t enjoy. This book is those parts, or like unto it.

The essays at the end of the book were pretty good, as he dealt with faculty psychology and classical education. The sections at the front on philosophy of religion are weak, but that is the nature of the case. In reading this one also gets a feel for world culture at the time, especially as Europe was hurtling towards the inferno of World War I and the Russian Revolution, when Satan would be unleashed upon the world. Bavinck is seen fighting a heroic rear-guard action. But in reading these essays one gets the impression that Bavinck is often outgunned and out manned.

Further, with a few exceptions, if you were an unbeliever in 19th century Europe, your work is outdated garbage, even by today’s unbelieving standards. I’m not sure exactly what Bavinck’s critiques add to this body of knowledge. Skip this and read his Philosophy of Revelation instead.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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